WELCOME to our new Eyecatchers column. Every week Alan Thomson will be pinpointing horses primed to strike in the next few weeks, if not days. Remember, you can add Alan's weekly updates to your ATR Tracker.
MAJOR CRISPIES ATR Tracker
(Lingfield, 28th February)
Had impressed nine days earlier when whipping Drive On but had to settle for third place in this Class 3 event. Travelled strongly for most of the six-furlong trip but a high head carriage didn't help his apprentice jockey as he tried to steer a path between the two leaders. Perhaps his rider would have been better switching to the outside to mount his challenge as his relatively inexperienced mount may have been a bit intimidated when tight for room. Major Crispies deserves another chance.
SPIRITUAL STAR ATR Tracker
(Lingfield, 1st March)
Returned from a 154-day absence to run a promising fifth to True To Form in this Class 3 handicap. Now a five-year-old, Spiritual Star paid a heavy price for winning a Newmarket maiden by six lengths as a juvenile for Andrew Balding, hitting an official rating of 109. The gelding subsequently lost his way (sent off 33-1, 25-1 and 40-1 on previous three starts) but should be competitive off this new mark of 92.
TAGLIETELLE ATR Tracker
(Navan, 1st March)
A fast-ground Newmarket winner in the Paul Mellon silks for Andrew Balding over 1m 6f last June, Taglietelle is now in the very capable hands of Gordon Elliott. The five-year-old probably found the soft ground against him in this maiden hurdle but stayed on steadily in fifth behind odds-on Drumlee. It's not hard to envisage significant improvement when sent handicapping on a sounder surface this summer.
RANJAAN ATR Tracker
(Lingfield, 1st March)
Chased home My Tent Or Yours in Kempton NH bumper and was in the process of running a big race when badly hampered three out in this competitive two-mile 32Red Conditions Stakes won by Litigant. Although a winner over hurdles, Ranjaan is worth another chance on the level.
ART OF PAYROLL ATR Tracker
(Leopardstown, 2nd March)
Connections were bemoaning the fact that their improving five-year-old was highly unlikely to make the cut in the County Hurdle after hacking up in this two-mile handicap under Mr Cool himself, Paul Carberry. Trainer Dessie Hughes will have an alternative in mind at Aintree/Punchestown next month.
GUARDS CHAPEL ATR Tracker
(Kempton, 3rd March)
Only moderate but Gary Moore should be able to place him to advantage in Polytrack staying handicaps. The six-year-old looked a bit ring-rusty in fourth here but came home steadily, despite an awkward head carriage, from a poor position on the home bend. Probably best in a stronger-run event as well.
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